The prophet Daniel learned from reading the words of the prophet Jeremiah that the exile of God’s people in Babylon would last for seventy years. This time period was based upon 490 years of ignoring God’s sabbath land requirements, as required by the law of Moses given eight centuries before Daniel. Every seventh year was supposed to be a sabbath year of rest for the land.
The main reason for the peoples’ exile was their stubborn worship of other gods and idols while totally forsaking the worship of the Lord. But how long would the exile last? Their covenant with God demanded that their farmlands lie fallow every seventh year. This sabbath year was to be without planting or harvesting to honor and trust the Lord as the ultimate source of their bounty. It also permitted the poor of the land to access whatever grew during the sabbath year to use for their own provision and sustenance. As different fields around them enjoyed sabbath rests during different years, this was God’s way of providing a steady source of food for the poor and hungry to glean without having to travel too far. But for whatever reason, this agrarian nation chose to ignore the land sabbath requirement and to continue planting and harvesting their fields every year.
As recorded in the book of 2 Chronicles about the invading king, Nebuchadnezzar:
20 He exiled to Babylon those who had escaped the sword and they became slaves to him and his sons until the reign of the kingdom of Persia— 21 in fulfillment of the word of Adonai by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had paid back her Shabbat rests—for as long as it lay desolate—the Shabbat rest was kept till 70 years were complete. 2 Chronicles 36:20-21 (TLV)
When Daniel realized from the word of God that the seventy-year period was nearing an end, he prayed earnestly for the Lord to forgive him and his people for rejecting Him, and to free them from Babylon to allow restoration of the temple and the city of Jerusalem. While he was praying, the angel Gabriel appeared on the scene to assure Daniel that he was beloved by God, that his prayer had been heard, and that God was doing a new thing for His people – introducing One who will be king over a global and eternal divine kingdom.
Just as 490 years held a significant meaning looking into the past, it also held a deep meaning for the peoples’ future. “Seventy sevens” or “seventy weeks” of years would establish the date for the arrival of the coming Messiah, known as Mashiach the Prince.
The “seventy sevens” prophecy given to Daniel documents the Messiah’s coming in two parts: first, sixty-nine weeks of years (listed as 7+62 weeks) will point to the timing of Jesus Christ presenting Himself as King in Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Second, after a lengthy time gap, the separate, 70th week points to the second coming of Christ near the end of the Times of the Gentiles. This 70th week will come after God the Father deems the era of human government to be complete. It will mark the beginning of the seven-year Great Tribulation period in the last days as prophesied in multiple places in the Bible, sometimes referred to as the Day of the Lord.
After the seven years of the seventieth week is complete, the Father will send Jesus to earth to defeat the little horn, or Antichrist, who is tormenting the world. Jesus will come in power and glory to defeat Antichrist and his armies, and assume all honor, and authority over this planet and the heavens. He will reign forever as King over the eternal Kingdom of God.
Before Daniel had finished praying in repentance, the angel Gabriel arrived to present him with this prophesy. Referring to the Lord, Gabriel stated:
22 “He instructed me and said to me: ‘Daniel, I have come now to give you insight and understanding. 23 At the beginning of your requests, a message went out, and I have come to declare it to you, for you are greatly esteemed. Therefore consider the message and understand the vision:
24 “Seventy weeks are decreed concerning your people and your holy city,
to put an end to transgression
to bring sin to an end,
to atone for iniquity,
to bring in everlasting righteousness,
to seal up vision and prophecy,
and to anoint the Holy of Holies.
25 So know and understand:
From the issuing of the decree to restore and to build Jerusalem until the time Mashiach, the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and 62 weeks.
It will be rebuilt, with plaza and moat, but it will be in times of distress. Daniel 9:22-25 (TLV)
This remarkable prophecy predicts the Triumphal Entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem as occurring in April, 33 AD. The decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem would be given to Nehemiah in the 20th year of King Artaxerxes of Persia, as recorded in Nehemiah 2. Historically, this occurred in 444 BC. Using a 360-day calendar from the Old Testament, the sixty-nine weeks of years points to the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, just exactly when He came.
Following this, the rest of this prophecy references the Messiah being “cut off” after the sixty-nine weeks. This refers to Jesus’ crucifixion, which will bring an end to sin and atone for iniquity, while His resurrection will bring in everlasting righteousness.
This is an amazing section of scripture that shows us that God has His loving hand on the past, present and future. Believers have a wonderful hope because of His grace, mercy, and generosity. It is offered to all who would choose Him and be covered by the sacrifice of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
Lord, thank You that of our times are in Your hands. We trust You to bring us safely through our days on earth into Your eternal kingdom through the sanctifying and life-giving death of Jesus Christ on the cross and His triumphant resurrection from the dead. Hold us close through our life and grant us and our loved ones Your rich blessing and protection through all of life’s challenges and tribulations. Help us to share Your goodness and love with others. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Reference: Hoehner, Harold, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ, 1977 by The Zondervan Corporation